February 28, 2007
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FROM VOLUME 6, NUMBER 6, JUNE 1993
U.S. POLICY CHANGE
April 21 address commemorating Earth Day, President Bill Clinton
committed the United States to reducing greenhouse gas emissions
to 1990 levels by the year 2000. This is a major reversal of the
U.S. position developed under President Bush, which deliberately
avoided emission targets and timetables. (See general accounts in Nature,
p. 779, Apr. 29 1993; New Scientist, p. 7, May 1 1993; Chem.
& Industry, p. 303, May 3 1993; Environ. Rptr. Curr.
Devel., p. 3187, Apr. 23 1993; and Intl. Environ. Rptr.,
p. 320, and p. 346 (reaction of European nations.)
Clinton wants his administration to develop a plan for meeting
the commitment that encourages technological improvements over
increased bureaucratic regulation or "unnecessary
costs." An extensive analysis in Global Environ. Change
Rep. (pp. 1-3, Apr. 23 1993) discusses the implications of
the announcement in terms of the energy tax Clinton had recently
proposed, the significant distinction between reducing all
greenhouse emissions (as announced) and reducing CO2
emissions (which is more difficult and more costly), and possible
approaches the U.S. can use for meeting the goal. The article
also points out how Japan and some European countries that have
already adopted emission reduction goals are having difficulty
developing policies for achieving them. Another analysis, in Energy,
Econ. & Clim. Change (pp. 11-14, May), examines why U.S.
environmental groups have not tried to hold Clinton to his
campaign pledge of reducing CO2 emissions (as opposed
to greenhouse gas emissions) to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
On May 21, the White House announced that its Office of
Environmental Policy will lead the process of developing a
revised National Action Plan, required by the climate convention,
for meeting the new emission reduction goal in a cost-effective
manner. An Interagency Climate Change Mitigation Workgroup has
been established, with subgroups for energy supply, energy
demand, transportation, methane and other greenhouse gases,
greenhouse gas sinks, and joint implementation (projects carried
out in other countries that contribute to greenhouse gas
reduction). The plan is to be ready for an August meeting of the
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the climate
convention in Geneva, a timetable most consider extremely
ambitious. Public participation is being sought through workshops
to be held around the country. A lengthy discussion of the
development of the plan appears in Energy, Econ. & Clim.
Change, pp. 2-4, May.
The original National Action Plan, developed in the closing
days of the Bush Administration (GCCD, p. 13, Jan.), was
the subject of oral testimony before a House Foreign Affairs
subcommittee March 1 (Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 168-169,
Mar. 10; Chem. Eng. News, p. 6, Mar. 15), and of
subsequent written testimony (Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp.
257-258, Apr. 7). The Global Climate Coalition, a broad-based
group representing various industries, supported the Bush plan,
and made recommendations for its development. (See Reports/Gen.
Interest & Policy.) The Coalition and the utility and coal
industries strongly oppose targets and timetables for emission
reductions. Those calling for a revised, stronger plan include
environmental groups, the Business Council for a Sustainable
Energy Future, and the Alliance for Acid Rain Control and Energy
Policy, consisting of current and former governors. The Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy wants the plan to address the
energy consumption implications of international food trade.
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